More than 400 seniors register for IT bootcamp

SINGAPORE - Some 420 seniors have signed up for this year's Intergenerational IT Bootcamp, marking the highest participation rate for the annual event.

The six-day bootcamp, which kicked off on Monday, aims to help seniors familiarise themselves with basic IT skills through hands-on workshops. Student volunteers aged 10 to 16 are paired with seniors to guide them along.

This year's event, organised by the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) and the People's Association, is held across 13 schools in Tanjong Pagar GRC and Radin Mas SMC.

It is part of IDA's Silver Infocomm Initiative, which aims to help senior citizens acquire IT skills in a friendly environment. Since the bootcamp began in 2010, a total of 62 schools have co-organised 100 workshops involving some 2,000 pairs of seniors and students.

On Wednesday morning, Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing joined some of the bootcamp participants at Bukit Merah Secondary School and Gan Eng Seng Primary School.

"I think this is a good programme. It achieves two objectives," said Mr Chan, who is also MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC. "First, I think it helps the seniors overcome the initial... fear and hesitation of using IT. The second equally important objective... it allows our young children to play a part to help our elderly, and it brings out the kind of good values that we want to see in our young children."

Mr Chan added: "Technology is evolving very fast. So we have to constantly make sure that not just our young people, but also our elderly... keep up with the latest technology so that it can help improve their lives."

"We don't want them just to use technology for technology's sake, but most importantly it must value-add to their quality of life, so that it allows them to access services, access information that they would like to know, so that they have a more meaningful way of going about their daily lives."

Retiree Ang Eng Tee, 83, was one of the oldest participants on Wednesday. "It's very fun. It's my first time using a computer," said the former seamstress in Mandarin. "I don't know what's a mouse, how to go online. I find it all very strange."

Student volunteer Tay Jing Jie, 11, said she feels excited to be helping the elderly with technology. "Sometimes I teach my grandparents how to use handphones and computers. It feels good to be able to help."

yeosamjo@sph.com.sg